Here are some of questions that we get frequently. We thought sharing them may help people understand more about our business.
I have a set of chairs that need some attention. Can you fix them?
Yes! Chairs are some of the most common types of furniture in need of repair, mostly because they get so much use. Plus, we all like to lean back in them which stresses the joinery (we're guilty of that as well). Broken spindles and stretchers, loose legs, missing pieces: we've got you covered.
In need of rush or caned seats or some upholstery work? While we don't offer those services in house, we're happy to connect you with local artisans who specialize in those trades.
Do you make house calls?
We do make house calls! Certain types of repairs and touch ups can sometimes be done in your home with minimal disruption to your daily life. More involved repairs or finish work generally makes more sense being completed at our studio. We can discuss the issue with your furniture and determine if a house call is your best option.
* We reserve the right to place a temporary hold on house calls during times of heightened concern of the coronavirus pandemic when lengthy indoor visits impose a higher risk of infection. *
I have an old piece of furniture that needs some restoring, but I'm nervous it will end up looking too 'new'.
An understandable concern! The character your furniture has acquired from years, decades, or even centuries of wear and tear is something that we are more than happy to preserve. We like when old things still look old even after restoration. Often times certain surface 'imperfections' remain as part of your furniture's own story while more superficial marks have their appearances reduced.
A look that we generally aim for is: "showing its age, but having been well maintained". Of course, we can discuss the level of restoration you prefer and adjust our processes to suit your needs.
How long will it take to finish my project?
Each project is different but we do our best to give you a general idea of project time frames when we do estimates. Our process means no shortcuts can be taken and still have the job done right. In general, a 'quick turnaround' project for us is 3 - 4 weeks (things like tightening chairs and other items not needing major finish work). Projects with a broader scope of work and/or requiring more involved finish treatments can take 4-8 weeks or longer. The amount of work in the studio at any given time also plays a role in how quickly projects can be completed. (The COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to longer than anticipated time frames as delays in the supply chain occur. We're doing our best, we promise!)
Can we move up the delivery date on my furniture?
Possibly....but we can't make any promises. As stated above, many factors contribute to project time frames. Project completion (and therefore delivery) is conditional upon the use of processes that can rarely be rushed and materials that have minimum cure times in order to perform their best. The current stage that your project is in when this request is received will dictate if we are able to oblige.
Still, it doesn't hurt to ask. But we recommend getting in touch about this as soon as possible to increase your chances of an early delivery. Depending on the circumstances, a 'rush fee' may be added to your invoice if the estimated project time frame is sped up.
Do you have a wait-list? How long is it and how do I get on it?
Having three or four months (or more) worth of work lined up is essentially our 'normal'. While that duration of time may fluctuate, it's fair to say that you may have to wait for us to accept your project into our studio. After all, we only have so much space at any given time and it is often the case that one project must leave before another can come in. There are times when we have to stop accepting new work in order to clear out our backlog. We try to keep those times to a minimum.
Planning well in advance, particularly if you need your project completed by a certain date, will greatly increase the likelihood that we can accommodate you. This especially applies if you need your project completed for a major holiday.
After we have provided you with our estimate, all you have to do is respond with your desire to proceed on your project. Only then can we add you onto our schedule. If you wait to give us your go-ahead, other clients will have taken 'your place in line'. In most cases, the order in which we can accept projects are 'first come; first serve'.
There are times when your project may not have to wait so long. Smaller items that require less work may qualify on a case by case basis to be accepted earlier. This largely depends on the level of repair or restoration needed as well as available space in our studio.
Do you have weekend hours?
Subject to availability (and only with a previously arranged appointment), clients may pick up or drop off their furniture at our studio during the weekend. Otherwise, we do not do pickups, deliveries, house calls, or estimates outside our normal hours of operation (Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm). Phone calls or emails received outside of business hours are usually answered the next business day.
How much will my project cost? I can send a photo.
Photos can be helpful in determining the scope of work needed for your project, but to be able to provide an accurate estimate we will need to see the piece in real life. Why? Certain finish issues are difficult to photograph. Similarly, photos rarely convey the extent of things like loose veneer, poorly working drawers, or loose joints. All theses things can radically change treatment, project time frame, and pricing and we'd rather provide you with the most accurate estimate right from the start. In general, we are usually able to provide a very general estimate of costs from photos. An in person examination of your project will ultimately dictate the final estimate. Pricing is also subject to change it the scope of the project changes.
Can you get rid of white, hazy rings on my table?
If the rings are faint and just on the surface of the finish, we may be able to remove them with a house call. White rings that penetrate deeper into the finish may require more involved work at our studio. The good news is white rings are in the finish only, not in the wood.
The white rings are trapped moisture in the finish. We've heard of lots of home remedies over the years. While some have had success with them, there's not one out there that we can recommend. (Most involve food items like olive oil or mayonnaise, both of which will turn rancid in the wood of your table. Please don't use them on your furniture.) It is also very easy to create other problems when using home remedies so we suggest allowing us to assist you.
To avoid white rings, make sure you have a good barrier against heat and moisture. Hot dishes, condensation from glassware, and spills can all lead to white rings. Table pads, non-heat conductive trivets, place mats, and coasters all help protect against white rings.
What about black rings or splotches? I want those removed.
Black rings and other dark splotches are a completely different problem. These marks are a result of a substance that has either stained the wood or through a chemical reaction with the wood has turned black. There are ways to deal with these stains, but they are more involved than dealing with white rings. The goal is to have these types of blemishes go away 100%, but that is not always possible. Sometimes, we can only reduce their appearance, leaving a faint 'shadow' of the problem. Sometimes it's a 90% improvement, sometimes only 10%.
Another type of dark splotch or mark you might encounter are burns. Whether left by candles or cigarettes, burns are more difficult to disguise because the wood itself has undergone some level of carbonization. We are able to touch up these areas to help minimize their appearance.
My furniture looks so dry. How can I 'feed' the wood?
There are many oils, polishes, creams, balms, salves, and sprays out on the market that claim to 'feed' or 'condition' wood. Assuming your furniture is not just raw wood, these products won't help you in the long term, might cause further issues, and in general use chemicals or materials that really aren't good for you. We don't recommend using them.
More often than not, the 'dry' look is a finish issue. Furniture with particularly 'lean' finishes tend to have this 'dry' look more than others as relatively little finish has been applied at all. It might also be due to UV damage. Or maybe the finish is worn away or de-laminating from the wood surface. In these events, using those products could interfere with a more appropriate treatment, sometimes irreversibly. It is best to get in touch so we can develop a plan to restore your furniture.
We've also put together a handy guide for day to day furniture maintenance. (Good news: less is often best!)
My furniture was damaged by an accident in my home. My insurance company needs an estimate for repair. Can you assist?
We are happy to provide an estimate for repair caused by flooding, fire, or other unexpected 'surprises' life throws at you. We will provide you with an estimate you can submit to your insurance company to help return your furniture back to its condition before the damage occurred. Please keep in mind, we are not appraisers and cannot assess the value of your furniture.
The movers broke a piece of my furniture but are only offering a few dollars to compensate for the damage! Why is that?
We hate seeing moving damage, but it happens frequently. Even a very careful move by an experienced mover results in damage sometimes. If you only use the mover's basic insurance to cover your items, they are only responsible to compensate you for around 60 cents per pound of the item. You can imagine, this amount won't make a large dent in the cost to restore your piece. Extra insurance, either through the moving company or a third-party, is recommended to protect your cherished items regardless of monetary value.
Similar to doing an estimate for an insurance company, we can provide you with an estimate to submit to your movers to see if they will cover the cost of restoration.
If your furniture is damaged during a move, make sure any broken pieces are found and kept with the damaged piece. If we can reuse an original part, that will bring the cost down.
Do you deliver and pick up furniture? Can I drop off / pick up my project?
We routinely pick up and deliver furniture. If it is a larger item, just let us know if you are able to assist in moving it or if we need to bring a second person with us (for an additional fee). All of our pricing includes pickup and delivery.
You are more than welcome to drop off or pick up your furniture at our studio. This can help reduce the cost of your project. Keep in mind, we are open by appointment only and it is vital that you schedule any delivery or pick up well in advance. Be sure to bring an appropriately sized vehicle and have plenty of good padding ready: moving quilts, old comforters, and even cotton bedding are all good options. The more, the better!
Can I visit your workspace?
We are happy to have visitors, whether you are dropping off a project or are just interested in seeing our studio. However, you still have to schedule an appointment ahead of time with reasonable notice. With an appointment on our calendar, we can be sure to be available for you and not out on a delivery, or at the hardware store, or right in the middle of a complicated glue up when you arrive. Dropping by unannounced (or giving very little notice) is strongly discouraged.
All visitors should review our face mask policy before coming by.
Why use shellac instead of lacquer or polyurethane?
You're probably used to the shellac available at your local hardware store, which is usually not the best quality. Those cans of pre-made shellac can be quite old before you even purchase it and shellac loses its ability to cure properly with age. We make our own shellac in house in small batches as needed so it will always cure as it should. Our shellac is also thinner than store bought as we find that the 'many thin coats' approach yields a harder more durable finish than applying 'just a few thick coats'.
There are finishes out there that are 'tougher' than shellac. But these finishes trade clarity and repairability for that toughness. Because shellac is so repairable should an issue arise, we consider it is a far superior finish than most. It is also more period appropriate for some furniture than modern day lacquers and urethanes. We do offer oil varnish options (also repairable) where appropriate.
What's the best glue for repairs?
You might be surprised to find that glue 'strength' is only part of the equation when deciding on an appropriate adhesive. Properly aligning the break, adequate clamping pressure, and the type of adhesive are more important. We prefer to use reversible glues when possible. You won't find hot melt glue or a particular 'primate' branded glue amongst our adhesive choices.
Your basic carpenters' glue is probably plenty strong for most jobs and readily accessible from most hardware stores. (Unless you absolutely need waterproof versions of these glues, we don't recommend them.) If your repair doesn't work out as planned, we can largely undo these types of glues if you call on our assistance. Hide glue is our most reversible adhesive and is frequently found on period furniture.
We've found that the expanding foam nature of some polyurethane based glues (like the one with the primate on the label) may be better suited towards other crafts and we do not recommend them for furniture repairs. They lack the reversibility we endorse and will need to be removed with hand tools in order to complete the repair properly. This can greatly increase the cost of repair. If you are unsure of what glue to use than it is best to let us assist you.
Does restoration work use animal-products?
Sometimes. Shellac and hide glue are both made from animal-derived ingredients. And one of our wax mixtures contains beeswax. These are the ones we are aware of. Many of the materials we use do not disclose the source of their ingredients. If you would rather us avoid using the materials listed above, just let us know when we are at the estimating stage. We can always back up if you tell us later, but we will have to invoice you for the time involved up to that point, undoing that work, and redoing the work to your preference.
Do you take credit cards? What about Venmo or PayPal?
Currently, we only accept cash or checks. A 25% deposit is due at pick up for projects over $500 with the balance due when you receive your furniture back. Items that cannot be delivered or picked up within 30 days of completion, we do charge a storage fee. (See policies for more on storage fees.)
If you know that making payment with cash or check may pose a problem, let us know! We can work together to come up with a solution if we know ahead of time.
Do you have a face mask policy?
Yes, and our face mask policy is still in effect. We feel it is best to take every precaution for mutual safety. This means everyone wears a snug fitting mask that fully covers their nose and mouth whether you are in our studio or we are in your home. And yes, this still applies if you have received a full vaccine dose including the booster(s). We assess conditions at the beginning of each and adapt the policy when we feel is it is needed.
We take your health and safety very seriously. We only ask for the same treatment in return.
Is my piece of furniture even worth restoring?
As tastes in decor change, so does the monetary value of furniture. In recent years, lower monetary value has been more of the trend when it comes to antique furniture. This means that often times, the cost to restore must be weighed against the cost of replacing the furniture. Ultimately, that decision is up to you.
Most of the projects we work on are family heirlooms or are pieces that have a strong emotional attachment to the owner. For these projects, replacement may be out of the question regardless of its monetary value (low or high). All of the projects we work on are equally valued in our eyes because our client's value their pieces. We offer the best service we can whether your piece is worth $40 or $40,000.
Where can I buy French polish?
French polish is more of a process than a product. To French polish something is to slowly build up very thin films of shellac by using cotton wadding wrapped in a tightly woven cotton cloth, called a 'rubber'. The finisher must gently 'glide' the rubber over the surface while paying attention to their speed, movements, and pressure all while 'squeezing' out a very small amount of shellac. Gradually, alcohol is also added to the rubber which helps the shellac flow and helps polish the surface. Temperature and humidity also play a major role in how quickly the finisher makes their movements and how much shellac they can use at any given time. The results are like no other, but this process is time consuming. There are very few restoration shops in our area that offer this service.
An old shellac finish can be cleaned and French polished and the new shellac will make a permanent bond. A piece of furniture can also be French polished from raw wood.
So while you can buy shellac, you can't buy French polish. (But you can hire us to French polish for you!)